Self-definition

Laura Kim is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of British Columbia

 

I’m a 3rd year medical student.

But I’m not just a medical student. Before August 2015, I had a life that was full and rich and medicine-free. Today, my life is no longer medicine-free — but I refuse to allow it to be any less full or rich.

I’m not just a med student.
I’m a pediatrics gunner, a student politics junkie, and a francophone-wannabe.
I’m a dancer, a baker, and a knitter.
I’m a Harry Potter-fanatic, a Sav Blanc expert, and a nap-connoisseuse.
I’m a loving girlfriend, an overbearing older sister, and a fierce friend.
I’m loyal, compassionate, caring, sarcastic, and (often) a hot mess.
I’m a poor parallel parker, a clumsy clerk, and a top-notch procrastinator.

But that’s okay. These are all things that define me as me.

What does not define me as me?

I have depression.
I take two anti-depressants to get me through the day.
I have sobbed in front of my classmates and my preceptors.
I have said horrible things to people I love.
I have bit my lip and clenched my fists until I bled.
I have wished I could fall asleep and never wake up.
I have wondered how much Tylenol it would take to break my liver.

But these things don’t define me. They aren’t even part of me. I have depression — but I’m not depressed.

Knowing what defines me and what the depression is doing to me has been absolutely key to coping in these first few months of clerkship.

When I’m feeling sad or empty, I have to remember that those thoughts aren’t me — it’s the depression warping my emotions.
When I’m too down to study or focus, it’s not because I’m a bad medical student — it’s the depression sucking my energy away.
When I’m calculating how much Tylenol I need to overdose, it’s not that I think that I’m useless — it’s the depression pushing me to my edge.

I’m not a depressed patient. I’m not a suicidal patient. I’m someone with depression. I’m a loyal, compassionate, caring person with depression. I’m a medical student with depression.

But I don’t think that makes me any less of a medical student or future clinician.